A Challenging Birthday

Napier’s beautiful Clive Square

It’s now Tuesday December 7th, 2021. Kia ora!

Today JD and I just got back from Napier. Mostly, we drove through heavy rain, with the temperature much cooler as we headed south. The rain was heaviest between Levin and Otaki, but I couldn’t find any news about the weather on the stuff or the rnz website, although I did hear a report from a woman who lived in Te Horo and was stuck in her home, since the road to it had been closed because of flooding. Naturally, I was quite anxious, and wondered if we should look for a motel in Otaki. But we got home just fine, after driving through what turned out to be the worst of the rain.

On Saturday we had headed north to Napier, for our daughter’s birthday. We had both had Covid 19 tests, as requested, on the previous Thursday afternoon, and we each got a text message just before we left Wellington to say we’d tested negative.

We stopped for lunch at Otaki – my choice, although the café was quite busy, and although we’d ordered cabinet food, we had to wait a while to be served, after having our vaccine passes photographed.  Then we headed north-west again, arriving in Napier late afternoon.

The motel where we stayed was a huge disappointment. I had stayed there some years ago with my eldest son, and my daughter had been evacuated there when she still stayed at Clive, so I was disposed to think well of it. I’m sure I was quoted a lower price than we paid, too. I booked through Wotif, which seemed to be the only option – and unsubscribed from their endless emails. (They’re still sending me emails. Grrr! How was check in?)

The motel had beautiful gardens, but tight and limited parking. Our studio unit was small, with no bath, and a very small shower. I joked o JD that it was a good thing he wasn’t any larger, and, by the way, he’d have trouble falling over in this shower. There wasn’t much room to put our sponge bags in the bathroom. In the bed-sitting room, there was a queen-size bed, a desk with one chair, a luggage rack, a wardrobe, and two armchairs – with no cushions and no headrest.  There was a breakfast bar with two high stools – no table to sit down at.  There was a fridge, hot water jug, microwave, and two elements, but no free toiletries in the bathroom, and no shower cap, despite the shower not having a hand-held unit like most modern showers do. This was not a place we wanted to spend a lot of time with our daughter, although they did have a playground, a pool, a spa pool, a pool table and table tennis table, and a guest laundry.  You’d think twice about using shared facilities at this time of Covid 19, though, especially with our vulnerable daughter.

The first night we had dinner at Portofino.  They have plenty of room there. They photographed our vaccine passes, and were happy to feed us. I had very nice bruschetta and salad, and my favourite veal in marsala sauce, with vegetables. I even had a glass of a very nice prosecco, that wasn’t too sweet.

I had a pretty bad night the first night, waking up after I’d been asleep for about an hour, and having trouble getting back to sleep. It was very hot, and I couldn’t get comfortable. That day we picked up our daughter, and she spent the day with us. Fortunately, she had a mask-wearing exemption, but no vaccine pass, so we had to cancel the lunch that we’d planned with her flatmates. We had to keep a detailed diary of everywhere she went. I had planned where we would go, so this worked out well. Fortunately, we were able to sit outside one of the cafés and have lunch – they didn’t require vaccine passports, and we sat outside and listened to the bells of Clive Square playing Christmas carols. We also heard Christmas carols playing in Whitcoulls; otherwise, there was a man playing Abba’s Fernando on a portable keyboard. Town was busy but not crazy busy – there were people around, but not enough to be threatening.

After lunch, we played mini-golf, and then went for a swing – the park where we went was deserted!  Then we went back to the motel, which was now a bit cooler.

The second night I woke again after a short sleep, but found it easier to get back to sleep again.  I had thought about staying somewhere else, but couldn’t really be fagged moving everything.

On Monday it rained! I was so relieved that we’d spent the previous fine day with our daughter.  We picked her up in the afternoon, and had her birthday “party” at our motel: fish and chips (at her request), raspberries and ice cream, and birthday cake. We sang the birthday song, but were careful to put the candles for her to blow out in her portion, rather than the whole cake.  I greatly admired the lovely book her brother had given her. Then we took her back to her house, and said goodbye – outside the house. What a strange and memorable birthday, and a sad goodbye.  We had planned to come here for Christmas again, but we won’t this year. Consequently I had to organise all the Christmas presents that we were leaving behind – wrapping and labelling gifts for my daughter and her carers and flatmates. There’ve been no statistics that I’ve seen about special needs people having covid 19, but I sincerely hope that none of these folk get it. People like her seem very vulnerable.

On the third night we both slept much better, for some reason; it was a bit cooler, we were more used to the bed, and our surroundings, and it was quiet.

The next day I bought some Danbo cheese at the Hohepa Shop, and we headed back to Wellington.  We usually stop in Woodville for lunch, but we didn’t want to this time; and we didn’t want to go to McDonalds in Dannevirke, either, although it’s one of the better ones. We stopped at a café – not a very good one, but there was no one else eating there, and they didn’t require vaccine passports there. I guess that tells you something, too. I was looking for a café where we’d been before, but perhaps this hadn’t survived two lockdowns. There were very few parking spaces in Dannevirke. Then we drove back to Wellington, where one of the first things I did was to turn on our coffee machine.

On Tuesday there were 98 new community cases: 74 in Auckland, 10 in Waikato, 8 in Bay of Plenty, 1 in Taranaki, and 5 in Nelson/Marlborough.

It’s now Wednesday December 8th. I slept well last night, and got up early to go to hymn-singing. It was lovely, as always; we finished by singing “O Holy Night”. None of us is Pavarotti, but I think we sang it rather well. We certainly enjoyed singing it. There’s one more session before Christmas, and then – who knows?

The weekend, on reflection, was quite a challenging time, in many ways.  Having the Covid 19 tests, urgently, on Thursday afternoon, was a novelty, although I didn’t find it bad at all. On Friday, someone was supposed to come from Access to do some housework. This was only the second time this person had come, and she was supposed to come at 11:40 am. I got ready and waited (i.e. I changed the towels, emptied the rubbish, put washing away, tidied up the toys, and did some other tidying up), and then I saw the rostered time had been changed to 12:30 pm.  Still no show, so we had lunch and went shopping.  Back home, I was just settling in for a rest, with a cup of tea, when she turned up. Poor woman, she’d had a really busy day, not getting to me till around 4 pm.  The next day we headed off to Napier.

I’m pleased about the rules Hohepa have put in place to protect people like our daughter. And I respect them. The fact that these rules inconvenience me at times is really irrelevant, although I have to admit that I sometimes struggle to know just what to do with her and her Dad, other than drink coffee and eat cake!  The Aquarium was out of bounds this time, as was the Warehouse and the golf driving range. Everywhere one is thinking: how many people will be there be, and what are the rest rooms like? Will they require vaccine passports?

Today I was in town in Wellington. I went to one of my favourite cafés, where I had to show my vaccine passport. The person on the counter just looked at it, she didn’t photograph it.  I had to show this at a Wishbone outlet, too. I’m a bit wary of (a) losing my mobile phone, which has my vaccine passport on it, and (b) having it photographed: it has my date of birth on it, and who  knows what’s on the QR code?  Will my booster shot record be on there, when I’m eligible? Is my covid 19 test record on there?  I had hastened to explain to the Medical Centre that I wasn’t feeling unwell, and I hadn’t been in contact with someone with Covid 19; I was having a test because Hohepa required me to. Between Covid tests, Mask mandates (and exceptions), and vaccine passports, all of which seem to have happened quite quickly, I am a tad discombobulated and concerned. Now that I’m home, everything’s different again. When I’m away, I enjoy not having to make my bed or  cook my dinner, but there are other challenges; now that I’m home, I’m sleeping better in my own bed again, but there’s no one to make it for me, or cook my dinner.  I’m operating at a different level.

Today in Covid 19 news the double-jabbed rate equals 88%; there are 90 new community cases and there are 74 people in hospital.  In an aged care facility in Ellerslie, a staff member has Covid 19; in a Catholic primary school in South Auckland, there’s been a positive diagnosis. Another person at a primary school in Nelson has been diagnosed positive.  There are several school affected by this delta outbreak – a cause for concern, since children under12 can’t be vaccinated until January 2022.

Overseas, Covid 19/omicron continues to infect many people, and infest many communities. There’s stings in its tail, too: there’s a “stealth” version that’s harder to track, and having had Covid 19 previously is no guarantee that you won’t get the omicron version too.  As for vaccines?  Omicron, like delta, appears to laugh in their faces: remember last Christmas, when it was “Hold on, vaccines are coming!” and now it seems Covid 19 says:  “Hold my beer, I’m still winning this race, I’m not done with you yet!”

More tomorrow. Each day brings new news. Ngā mihi.

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